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Woman who coughed on officers and paramedic jailed

A woman who coughed at emergency workers in Stoke-on-Trent has been jailed for 27 weeks.

Emergency services attended King Street in Fenton on 9 April, after receiving a report of a woman staggering and banging on vehicles.

Officers arrived and assisted with paramedics to take Nicola Tilstone, of no fixed address, to hospital with potential Covid-19 symptoms due to a high temperature.

Whilst in the ambulance, the 37-year-old began to cough. She was told to not cough in the direction of staff, but continued to do so purposefully.

When arriving at the Royal Stoke University Hospital’s Covid ward, Tilstone coughed several times including at a paramedic who was attempting to treat her.

She charged with four counts of assaulting an emergency worker after coughing on three officers and a paramedic

She pleaded guilty and was jailed yesterday (20 May) at Stoke-on-Trent Crown Court.

WMAS Chief Executive, Anthony Marsh, said: "My staff are working night and day to help people during this dreadful pandemic.  We have been overwhelmed by the support and gratefulness of so many patients and their loved ones, which is why this case is so shocking.

"We all know the dangers of this virus and the thought that someone would purposefully try and infect the very people there to help her is appalling.

"I am delighted that the Court has shown everyone that such actions will not be tolerated."

Assistant Chief Constable Simon Tweats said: “The vast majority of people across Staffordshire have been fantastic during the lockdown period, even now as the government begins to ease restrictions. Compliance with the regulations remains important, especially if we are to continue to locally drive down infection rates.

“Unfortunately, there are a small minority that choose not to protect others and there have been several incidents where emergency services have been deliberately spat and coughed at in an attempt to infect them, or at least making emergency workers think so. Not only is this dangerous from a health protection perspective it’s also down right disgusting behaviour.

“Emergency services are on the frontline and are working to save people’s lives; often working in extremely challenging situations. Rest assured we will not tolerate this sort of behaviour and those responsible will be arrested and brought to justice.” 

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